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Buying a flat or maisonette

Unlike buying a house, when you will usually purchase the freehold and will own the property outright, if you buy a flat or maisonette you will usually purchase a long lease.

A long lease allows you and your successors to live in it for a fixed time, usually 125 years. The block will still be owned by a landlord, and they will be responsible for the upkeep of the building as a whole and of any communal areas and facilities.

Before you apply to buy a flat we strongly recommend that you read these publications from GOV.UK:

  1. Residential long leaseholders – A guide to your rights and responsibilities and
  2. Thinking of buying your council flat

As a leaseholder, you only have to pay the landlord a nominal rent known as a ground rent of £10 a year. But you and other leaseholders will also have to pay service charges. These can be perhaps several hundred pounds each year or much more if the block needs major repairs or maintenance, such as a new roof or new windows, and improvements. See below for more details.

Leaseholders can sell their properties at any point during the lifetime of the lease. The person who buys it pays to take over the remainder of the lease. So if you buy your home on a 125-year lease, and sell it after 15 years, the buyer will get a 110-year lease.

Under your lease:

  1. Your landlord will be responsible for repairing the structure and outside of your flat and the rest of the building. This includes routine repairs and maintenance, and also major maintenance and refurbishment works (for example, repairing the roof or replacing a lift), which can be very expensive.
  2. Your landlord will usually provide services like communal lighting, and cleaning staircases and passageways, and perhaps supplying hot water to your flat.
  3. You will have to pay a reasonable share of the costs for these works and services. Your share is determined by the number of flats or maisonettes in the block.
  4. You will also usually have to pay a charge towards the landlord’s costs of managing the block – often calculated as a percentage of the charges for services and maintenance.
  5. You will also be responsible for keeping the inside of your flat in good repair.